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Two in a row for Inglewood

Friday 23 August 2013

Inglewood made it back-to-back Taranaki premier one netball titles brushing aside Raukura in the grand final in New Plymouth last night.

The defending champions stamped their class in the third quarter and powered away to win 52-38 in front of a big crowd at the TSB Stadium.

The Waitara side’s chances in the McDonald Real Estate final all but went out the window as the defending champions slotted seven unanswered goals in the final five minutes of the third quarter to go to the final break leading 39-27.

“Relief, that was the biggest emotion afterwards,” Inglewood coach Tracy White said.

“Back-to-back titles is always sweet. I’m really happy . . . the girls did it again.”

White said two tactical changes at halftime were key – Amber Bellringer on as goal shoot and Jenna O’Sullivan on at goal keep.

“Things were going OK, but we needed to mix it up a little. We made a couple of tactical changes, we felt they had too much control at both ends. The good thing is we were patient, the girls knew things would come right,” she said.

“There was a little bit of untidy stuff but the girls reacted to it and play flowed nicely in the third quarter, with our feeding into the shooters outstanding.”

Inglewood co-captain Heidi Smith was rapt with the win.

“Absolutely stoked. It was really, really good. It was hard work, we probably made it a little hard for ourselves. They made us work hard,” she said. “We were probably under pressure in the first half. We put ourselves under pressure, then let the ball go and relaxed a bit and got into the game as we know we could. We knew we could come back and we knew we just had to start building.”

As for a three-peat?

“Definitely. You have to go for three in a row.”

Twelve months ago, Raukura lost by 17 goals in the final – 51-34. This year the margin was 14, not that it mattered.

“Inglewood were just too classy, they’ve got no real weaknesses,” Raukura coach Che Tamati said later.

“The third quarter, that was a killer. The girls didn’t let it get to them and kept on battling. Unfortunately, they’re a great team and we couldn’t keep up with them.”

Tamati said he was proud of the way his team had played this season.

“We were predicted to finish fourth. Hats off to the girls, they fought hard to make the final. We had them panicking for a bit, but we just got pinged throughout the game.”

Inglewood had a relatively quiet start to the final by their standards going to the first break with a 12-8 buffer thanks to four late goals.

Raukura made three changes and the introduction of Aroha Kingi at wing attack had an immediate impact on the game. Her experience and quick hands rattled Inglewood and it was Raukura who dominated with a 10-4 run to lead 18-16.

But again, Inglewood settled into their work with three late goals to lead 23-20 at halftime.

They say the third quarter in netball is the championship quarter and it was last night.

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Inglewood was going along nicely at 9-7 for the quarter, before Bellringer upped the ante. She knocked in seven straight to give her side a commanding 39-27 lead and that was the ball game.

For the record, Inglewood took the final quarter 13-11, but the damage had already been done.